It’s been a season of development and growth for Carlton – a team stuck at the bottom end for five long years.
However, if they want to be a finals team, here’s what they need to do during the offseason.
Trade and free agency splash
Over recent years, whenever a team that has improved after a couple of rebuilding years, they go big in trade and free agency acquisitions.
Carlton looked likely to do that in 2019, but only got Eddie Betts, Jack Martin and Marc Pittonet. Now, they must do what the Saints and the Lions did in 2019 and 2018 respectively.
St Kilda bought star players Bradley Hill, Dan Butler, Dougal Howard, Paddy Ryder and Zak Jones, while Bribsane brought in players Lincoln McCarthy, Lachie Neale and Marcus Adams.
The Saints and Lions also did well because they recruited stars in previous seasons.
Charlie Cameron averages 1.5 goals per game and Luke Hodge was a great leader for Brisbane over his two years, and averaged 18.1 disposals per game.
The Saints got Dan Hannebery, who has averaged 21.4 disposals and 3.9 clearances (in sadly only ten injury-marred games).
Carlton have been linked to Zac Williams and Tom Papley (again) but they need to bring in maybe one or two more, especially on the wing, such as Rory Atkins, Jared Polec or even Isaac Smith.
Developing players into stars
Not only did St Kilda and Brisbane bring in stars, they developed their own.
Take Harris Andrews, for example. He was alright his first few years but since 2018, he’s become the best defender in the league, shutting out players such as Charlie Dixon, as well as averaging 13.3 disposals per game.
Jack Steele has become a superstar this year, averaging 22.2 disposals, 10.9 kicks, 5.4 tackles, 4.8 clearances, and 11.3 contested and uncontested possessions per game. He has become one of the best midfielders around.
In the end, despite it being a consolidating year for the Bluebaggers, they still need improvement.
They’re still a fighting chance to make finals this year, but if they improve a lot this off-season, 2021 could be the finals year that supporters have waited so long for.